Seven BIM movies for Christmas: part 2

Screen grab of the rooftop scene in Shawshank Redemption
Welcome to the second part of our countdown of movies about BIM to binge-watch over the festive break.

In the first part, we detailed movies about BIM, digital construction and the wider built environment from the realm of sci-fi: Rogue One, Star Wars, Alien, Aliens, Dredd and Independence Day. In this concluding part, we tackle The Shining, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade and The Shawshank Redemption plus some extras.

Fair warning: there are spoilers ahead! Watch the clips at your discretion.

This is an object lesson in conducting a robust whole-life assessment before commencing construction of a building.

First, avoid construction on burial grounds or other holy sites – this can lead to management problems later in a building’s lifecycle.

Second, once the building is in use, it is critical to entrust its management to a responsible and competent individual. Don’t, for example, leave it in the hands of a failing, alcoholic writer.

Even if you hope your manager is competent, when they start typing out single, repetitive lines of text on a typewriter instead of completing their maintenance duties, it is time to question their productivity.

While digital twins can be useful for complex projects, ghostly evil twin sisters can be considerably less helpful.

Should your building have a maze attached to it, make sure to include information about its layout in the digital model.

See also Poltergeist for an example of ineffective site remediation leading to build quality problems during occupation.

Find The Shining on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Rakuten TV.

This is a film about how poor information management can lead to serious problems further down the line. 

The location of the grail is not clearly noted in the parchment-based records system, hence the need for the crusade.

An extensive search for vital information on the grail’s location results in costly damage to the walls, floors and ceilings of a museum, the destruction of a Grade I-listed castle and key plant assets including planes, bikes, airships and tanks.

It’s also worth noting that prior knowledge of there being no pest control strategy in place for several of the above buildings would have kept the overall crusade project closer to schedule.

Ultimately, the heroes and villains find the location of the grail. However, it proves difficult to access due to a lack of clear information on building security systems. The lack of safety features, such as a “mind your head” sign and adequate guardrails around chasms, are particularly problematic here.

Inadequate information is provided on the appearance of the grail itself, and the onsite facilities manager is of little help as he has been on shift for several centuries. This lack of information leads to a grisly loss of life and a disappointed client, although the client is Hitler, so perhaps this is no bad thing.

To add to the construction failings on show throughout, the building that houses the grail collapses due to sudden subsidence, which, as an act of God, won’t be covered by any insurance.

Find Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade on Disney+, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Chili GB.

A true Christmas classic! For some, the film promotes the festive idea of ‘hope’, while for those who have their entire extended family descending upon them this season, it’s a reminder of feeling locked-up with sick, deprived individuals with no hope of escape…

Let’s move past the fact that if the Dufresne household had a way of logging who was on site at the time or at least a half-decent surveillance system, then our hero, Andy Dufresne, wouldn’t have gone to jail in the first place.

Let’s concentrate on the true, biting social commentary against the film’s real target: the failings of information management within the public sector.

Red, Brooks, Rita Hayworth, blah blah blah: the real story of Shawshank Prison is the roof, built without a proper assessment of the expected life of the prison, using inappropriate materials, and with no proper planned maintenance schedule in place. This results in the monstrous warden using his own inmates as workers to retar the roof: quite frankly it’s a mess. The assembly of the gang involves flagrant breaches of any known procurement code with bribes openly in play. There’s no centralised and accessible database to check the workers’ credentials, qualifications, skills and experience for the job in hand.

Shawshank’s health and safety breaches

Clear health and safety breaches ensue, including a fall from height near-miss (that goes unreported) and the workers and foremen imbibing alcohol.

Thankfully, our hero is a master of information management, although perhaps not in the way in which we can fully condone. He uses the lack of clear and catalogued information to launder the warden’s money to his own accounts, while at the same time successfully securing increased government funding for the complete renovation of the prison’s library.

As the narrative continues, we must deduce that the plans for Shawshank Prison are not held securely: our hero’s miraculous escape requires a good working knowledge of the building’s systems, in particular its sewage pipes. Thus, surely offscreen, Andy must have found the blueprints and set about planning his escape – an escape that could pose a security threat to the local population.

Budgetary and logistics issues mean that Andy’s escape is conducted without the appropriate tools for the job: digging his tunnel with a rock hammer means his project takes more than 20 years to complete, making him just slightly more efficient than the opening of the Elizabeth Line.

Find The Shawshank Redemption on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Chili GB.

Bonus content

There are two other movies about BIM and the wider construction world that should be flagged.

It’s A Wonderful Life focuses on the efficacy of a twin that allows real-world scenarios to be tested to predict outcomes and potential clashes, but with the possibility of reverting to the original design.

Meanwhile, the depiction of poor site security and stakeholder engagement on a road project in Falling Down is a lesson for us all.

Got your own suggestions for movies about BIM and digital construction? Let us know.

Authors: Justin Stanton, Neil Gerrard, Tom Peardon, Sam Ford, Will Mann and Stephen Quirke.

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